It’s odd for a contemporary Christian discuss ugliness at any point. Ugly is far to impolite of a word. But the ancients had no qualms talking about the ugliness of the bride of Christ in her former state. Yet I think that we have to talk about ugliness. When we talk about sin we often talk about guilt and working against the proper order, but ugliness is just as fitting of a category (just like the rest it is incomplete).
Aesthetics then is a category that we have to deal with.
Earl Christians described the big and the beautiful as a way to look at the church and truth in general.
So, what does it mean to put aesthetics into the equation of how we teach and preach or build schools? It means that we to recognize that fundamentally what we teach in church and school is how to determine what is beautiful and what is true. We teach enjoyment of the good. It is not just a matter of information but exposure to the practice and work of being able to see, to think, to hear beauty.
It isn’t all that surprising. Think about what a ballet class teaches or a music class teaches? It isn’t just notes or information going into the training. Those are essential parts of the practice and learning, but if that’s all you taught no music would ever get composed.
No they teach what forms look beautiful, the best teachers find the place where the uniqueness of each of their students fit in the dance or composition. It’s beauty in two directions: the form of the student and the form of the group. In the process, the students learn to appreciate the beauty in the other dancers or in truly great dancers.
What I am suggesting then that their is art to learning to see with the love of God in our eyes, and that churches should teach that. There is art in reading, writing, experimenting, exploring, calculating that has the potential to be found truly beautiful. That’s what we need in teaching.